Thursday, 18 December 2008

Critical Week: Winding down

It's that time of the year when awards-grabbing movies really go for broke. And in the USA, especially, the release schedules (in Los Angeles and New York) are packed with prestige movies, while critics and awards voters crowd into darkened screening rooms to make sure they see all of the contenders in time for voting deadlines.

Well, my deadline for the London Film Critics was on Tuesday, so I feel like 2008 is a wrap for me. Although I am still watching late-entries before voting as an Online Film Critic next week. The big guns I've seen since the last post include David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Will Smith's Seven Pounds and Stephen Daldry's The Reader - all worthy films with plenty to recommend about them. But the best of this late bunch is, hands down, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino. I have no idea how he does it, but he consistently shows up right at the end with one of the best films of the year, and this is one of his best films ever - both as a director and actor (he even sings the theme song, which he wrote!).

Stirred in between those high-profile things were lower-denominator fare like Adam Sandler's not-too-funny Bedtime Stories, Jim Carrey's not-so-funny Yes Man, Keanu Reeves' not-so-good The Day the Earth Stood Still. These are the films that will make all the money, alas.

Better have been the gloom-and-doom docs like I.O.U.S.A. and The Age of Stupid - neither is very hopeful, but if they wake us up they're worth the effort. And The Tale of Despereaux is a surprisingly lovely bit of animation. I'm also catching up with year-end contenders like Tilda Swinton's Julia and the Swedish favourite Let the Right One In. And I have my last actual press screening of the year this morning. Whew!

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